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Back to why this all started…

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I started this blog back when I found out that I was donor conceived. I wanted a place to record and talk through this journey. What I’ve come to realize though, is that it’s not really a big deal to me. I think that’s why there have been frequent long periods of silence here. The only times my donor conception really come up are when I’m discussing the topic of donor conception or family medical history. Those really aren’t things I discuss that often. I’ve realized this is one of the smallest parts of what makes me “me”. The initial revelation was a bit rocky, knowing that my mom and dad had hidden this from me my entire life, but we’ve talked through all that, and I don’t feel that our relationship has been damaged by it. The key factor in my feeling that way is the fact that at the time of my conception, both of my parents were given the standard professional advice of the day. That was to never tell me about my conception. Fortunately, the attitudes of the professionals/experts have evolved in the 30+ years since.

Obviously, not all donor conceived persons feel like this is no big deal. There are also feelings of anger, betrayal , and loss. These reactions don’t seem to fall along lines of those who have “always” known and those with later life discoveries. There’s no pattern of those who didn’t necessarily have a great home life growing up holding the most anger.  I found that interesting. There are adults on the forums who claim that they had wonderful families growing up, but they are furious over the use of donor gametes. There are donor conceived people who fight against any kind of donor conception (this is a minority but a very vocal one) at all to those, like me, who have child(ren) via donors. So I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but here is where I am and have been for a while now.

Personally:

At one point, I was interested in identifying my donor so that I could get his medical history. Then, I found twenty.three.and.me which gave me a genetic health analysis that more than satisfied my needs. The interesting thing about that is that the results actually revealed that I was a carrier for a genetic condition through my mother’s side of the family that we had no idea about. Having satisfied the one real “need” related to finding my donor, I’ve found myself at a place where I have no desire to make contact with my donor or any of his other offspring.

On Donor Conception:

My feelings on donor conception are that it should definitely remain an option for people who could not otherwise create/expand their families. I lean heavily toward using open ID or known (actually KNOWN, not strangers found on a website) donors, but I’m not absolutely against anonymous donation. I encourage prospective parents to choose ID option or open donors, but do not fault them for making a different decision. More and more methods of finding genetic connections are popping up all the time. This makes me feel that before long, “anonymous” donors won’t have the same level of anonymity and that donor offspring will have easy access to the most important pieces of their genetic makeup without the need for open/ID option donors. This is the reason for my less than emphatic stance on this topic.

The one absolute in this whole thing for me boils down to honesty. Here and now, in 2013, when almost every expert would agree that hiding adoption from a child is wrong, why don’t we hold donor conception to the same standard? Why is it still socially acceptable to hide the truth from a donor conceived child? I absolutely cannot be quiet when I hear that someone plans to hide the truth from their child. The child in question may end up feeling like me, that it’s no big deal, or s/he might have a greater interest in some sort of connection. The point is that this is the choice of the child, not the parent. It is absolutely the responsibility of the parent to share all available information about the donor with the child. A parent is supposed to be trustworthy. Finding out that you have been betrayed by the person/people in your life who you are supposed to be able to trust the most is more damaging than any donor information could be.

If there was one piece of advice I could share with every family considering donor conception, it would be honesty above all else. THIS is the one thing that my discovery has made me adamant about. Lying and or hiding the truth about donor conception is the one aspect of this whole issue that I will always speak out against. I cannot think of a single justifiable reason to hide this from a child at this time in society. This information is part of the child’s story. S/he should have access to all of it and ultimately the control over what to do with it. The donor information BELONGS to the child, not his/her parents.

Contact with “Diblings” AKA Donor Siblings:

I don’t really have strong feelings one way or the other on reaching out to other families who used the same donor before the child is old enough to make that decision. For our family, we want Little Man to be in control as much as possible. So we try to do enough to keep as many options as we can open for him without making too many decisions before he can speak for himself. The decision of whether or not to contact donor “siblings” is a decision that should be made by each family according to their comfort level until the child is old enough to request more information. Once the child is old enough to make the decision on contact for him/herself, control should be handed over.

How my feelings have changed:

There was a time before learning about my own status that I was threatened by the thought that someday my non-biological child would want contact with his donor or the donor’s other offspring. When my mom told me that I was donor conceived, I realized that the feelings I have/had for my dad were not at all affected by the revelation. The only thing that changed regarding my relationship to my (only) father was that I felt even more loved knowing the extent my parents had gone to while TTC. This made me realize that my feelings about our son one day possibly wanting to reach out were completely based in fear. The idea that we should try to share as little as possible with him because *I* was scared was selfish. We will be honest with him when he asks questions, and we will provide him with age appropriate pieces of his story along the way without waiting for his questions. I hope that he always knows that he was the priority in ALL decisions we made throughout this process, and that if we fumble along the way that we were doing our best. He deserves nothing less. This is his story to tell, not ours.

Ugh…

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This is supposed to be our cycle, the one I’m supposed to start any day now. I actually achieved (within 5 pounds) the weight goal which at one point I thought was impossible. As is often the case though, life had other plans.

Years ago (at least 5, probably more), I was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear. I did PT and stopped playing softball and lived with it. It was mostly just a minor annoyance when I’d overdone it. That was until recently. I had a really bad pain flare in early June. The rheumatologist gave me a cortisone injection and told me I could not lift anything heavier than 20 lbs (including Little Man) for at least 48 hours. That helped get the pain under control. Then, two weekends ago, I was playing with Little Man in our little backyard pool. Playing involved tossing the little dare-devil above my head and letting him splash down into the water. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but the big brown eyes, the incessant giggling, and the signing and saying “More Momma!” were more than I could handle saying no to. The next morning, I couldn’t even lift my arm to shoulder level and it didn’t get much better in the coming days. As expected, the GP referred me to ortho. Instead of starting BCP in preparation for IVF stims at the end of the week, I’ll be having an MRI. The specialist already warned me that the most likely course of action is surgery. If there is a good side, I suppose it’s that this happened before an embryo transfer so that I can go under anesthesia without the additional worry of harm to a potential pregnancy. More waiting sure does stink though…

In the meantime, my friend and I are working on pulling together the joint blog post I mentioned before.

Types of Donors

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There is a lot of confusion even within the community of people who have conceived via donor insemination about what the different labels regarding anonymity of donors actually mean. This is especially frustrating for me as a donor conceived person. If people do not even have a full grasp of the terminology, how can they make a fully informed decision? So just in case you’re stumbling across this post and could use a better understanding of all the labels and options, here you go…

Two types of donors are typically available from cryobanks.

  • Anonymous donors have no ID or contact options. Unless, at some point the donor contacts the bank and wants to allow for contact (this is rare), the only information ever available to offspring will be the profile information from the bank.
  • Willing-to-be-Known (WTBK) Donors, also known as ID Release Donors, have agreed to contact from offspring. Typically this option becomes available when the child turns 18.
  • Some people choose not to go through a cryobank. Most of the time, donors found through a registry or known previously by the family are referred to as Known Donors regardless of the actual level of contact or how well they’re actually “known”. These arrangements go from biological relatives of the non-biological intended parent to the equivalent of a one night stand and everything in between.

    The last possibility that comes to mind is a co-parenting arrangement. This is when there is an agreement in place for the donor to be a parent to the child whether legally or otherwise. This is the only time you should even remotely assume that it would be okay to refer to a child’s donor as the child’s dad.

    I know it can get confusing, but using the right terminology, especially when discussing the effect of anonymity on the donor selection, is critical.

    Requesting Your Input

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    I have a friend who is a late discovery adoptee. She was in her 30s when she found out that she had been adopted as an infant. I was in my 30s when I found out that I was donor-conceived. We’ve been discussing a joint blog post mainly focused on our feelings regarding donor anonymity as it relates to our children (we each have one) conceived before our discoveries and to the ones we hope to have in the future. We agree on many points but do have our different views and want to explore that with this post. So, where you come in is that we’ve chosen to do this in an interview format and would appreciate any questions you would like for us to answer as part of this co-post. Also, if you would like, please feel free to share a link to this post on your own blog or Facebook so that we might get a broader range of questions.

    Thanks!

    The Results Are In!

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    My mom’s DNA sample has been fully processed. I love all things genetics and genealogy related in the first place. Add this level of personal involvement in, and my passion borders on obsession. I’ve been poring over her results whenever I have a free moment. One thing that really stands out to me is her ancestry composition and how it compares to mine.

    Since her ancestry results were posted, I’ve been making a little joke regarding my donor. He must have been practically translucent considering how “white” I am and the fact that my mother’s ancestry actually has some interesting little pieces. When I refer to how “white” I am, I’m talking about the fact that my ancestry composition is more than 99% European with the majority of that 99% being Northern European. Although my mom is still predominantly of European ancestry, she has little sprinkles of Native American, East Asian, Sub-Saharan African, and Middle Eastern & North African. I find these fascinating, and wish that my grandmother (her mother) was still alive so that we could do yet another generation. Between my mom and myself, all of the East Asian, Native American, and Middle Eastern disappeared with only the tiniest fraction of a percent of Sub-Saharan African remaining. As a matter of fact, the percentage was so small that one geneticist speculated that it might just be “noise” in the analysis. My mom’s results lend some credibility to it however. I could ramble on for days about this, but I would hate to bore you.

    Life has been crazy lately, good but crazy. My mom is visiting, and we celebrated Little Man’s 2nd birthday. So, I haven’t had much time to write. I hope to get back here soon to catch you all up on what’s happened in our journey TTC #2 since the miscarriage. In short, IVF is in our near future. We have most of the pre-IVF stuff out of the way and hope to have an embryo transfer in August. More to come…

    Posts from BFP to Miscarriage

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    These posts were written on a hidden page here during the time between our positive test and the miscarriage.

    January 21, 2013

    We took a long break from TTC. I had a really difficult time being off all my meds, and I had to work with my doctors and get stabilized before we continued trying. This last cycle was our third since the break. On Friday, I started spotting, got a BFN (big fat negative) on an FRER (First.Response.Early.Result pregnancy test), and assumed it was over. Then on Saturday, I had stopped spotting. So, I took another pregnancy test, and the faintest of second lines appeared. I spotted some more during that day, but on Sunday, a slightly darker line appeared, and I got a “Pregnant” reading on a digital test. I spotted a little more throughout the day. The spotting really worried me, as did the lightness of my test lines. Today I went in for my first beta. The RE’s nurse called with my results, and as soon as I answered, I could hear it in her voice. My HCG is only 26. They look for 100+ at this point. This is likely not a viable pregnancy. Even though I had my doubts due to the light lines and the spotting, this still hurts. I go back Wednesday for another blood draw to see what my HCG is doing. If it doubles, there is hope for this pregnancy, and I’ll have another draw to see if it continues to double. If it doesn’t double or is already falling, I’ll continue to have draws until it drops below 5, and we’ll have to try again. This sucks…

    January 22, 2013

    You know what’s worse than the TWW? The two day wait between a not-so-encouraging BETA result and the next one…

    January 24, 2013

    We got some excellent news yesterday. My beta HCG more than doubled during the 48 hour window between tests. We now have our first ultrasound appointment scheduled where we will hopefully see a heartbeat. I feel like I barely breathed for two whole days. We’re not out of the woods, but I am much relieved…

    On January 29th, I went to the ER and was admitted to the hospital

    February 3, 2013

    Last Monday afternoon (5weeks), I started having bad cramps similar to my worst period cramps while wrapping things up at work. By bedtime, they were even worse. On Tuesday, they came and went until late morning when they were joined by sharp pain on my right side that eventually sent me to the ER. My HCG had barely doubled in 6 days (honestly, I think it was already falling). The ultrasound showed no signs of pregnancy. I was admitted and monitored for a possible tubal pregnancy due to the severe pain. This consisted of blood draws every 4 hours to make sure my hemoglobin levels were stable and I wasn’t bleeding internally. As I was being transferred from the ER to my room, I began to bleed. Even though I knew the miscarriage was inevitable, the bleeding was when I crumbled. I wasn’t allowed any food or water for almost 24 hours in case I required emergency surgery. Tuesday night, they gave me m0rphine, demer0l, and a sedative via IV, but I was still in pain. The addition of two perc0cet by mouth finally allowed me to sleep. Through Wednesday until noon, my hemoglobin levels had remained stable as my HCG continued to fall. I was discharged with black and blue arms and an aching heart. We had allowed ourselves to get excited, to imagine the joy of a family of four even though we knew it was early. We’re hurting but dealing and are grateful that it turned out not to be tubal. So that’s all for now.

    February 5, 2013

    People ask how we’re doing. My default answer has been that I’m physically doing better and the rawness has subsided a little. The whole truth is that I’m in pain. I’m hurting physically and emotionally. The worst part is that every single time I go to the bathroom, I’m reminded of our loss. The bleeding is terrible. I never imagined it would be this heavy for this long. I’m just sad…

    Genetics Update

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    During the time I wasn’t writing publicly here, we submitted my mom’s kit for DNA analysis. Because the testing company lowered their prices drastically, their processing times have increased. I’ve been obsessively checking for my mom’s results for several weeks now. They’ve made a lot of updates to the site and are now much better at keeping you informed of your testing status. Today, I saw this:

    Almost ready

    I am suddenly nervous and excited. In just a few days, I will know what I inherited from my mother, and what I inherited from my donor. I will also know which relatives are from which bloodline. That will help me make more informed decisions about what contact I want to pursue and when. I’m not opposed to exploring connections with people on the donor’s side, but I’m still not sure if I want to actively pursue it either…

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